How to Contour and Highlight Your Best Features


One of the coolest parts of the Internet age is that information about almost anything can be shared quickly and easily. Knowledge once reserved for professionals is now at the tips of your fingers via blog posts, Instagram feeds and YouTube tutorials.

When it comes to makeup, contouring is the trend of the day. What gal doesn't want to fake Kim Kardashian's bone structure in a few easy steps? Who needs plastic surgery when we've got highlighter and bronzer?

Watch your backs, Beverly Hills plastic surgeons: Us regular (and, might I add, beautiful) girls are throwing you a serious curveball. Here are some easy ways to enhance bone structure and look your very best, whether it's for work, date night or a girls' night out.

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Step 1: Start with a primer. This preps your skin and keeps foundation from settling into fine lines or wrinkles. It also increases the longevity of your makeup. I like Korres Quercetin & Oak Age-Reversing Primer.

Step 2: Apply a thin layer of tinted moisturizer. I recommend using one with SPF because, on top of evening out your skin tone, you'll be protecting your skin from the damaging effects of UV light. Laura Mercier is truly the best. Choose one that best matches your skin tone.

Step 3: If you have dark under-eye circles, apply concealer. I use a combo of Bobbi Brown Corrector and Creamy Concealer Kit.

Step 4: Apply your contour. The color is dependent on your skin tone, but a safe bet for your contour color is a matte bronzer two shades darker than your natural skin tone. I like to use a mix of cream and powder, but this isn't necessary for everyone. I like Bobbi Brown Foundation Stick, but for a more affordable alternative try Revlon Photoready Insta-Fix.


[Note: Ladies with oily skin can opt for powder only to help eliminate unnecessary oils, while those with dry skin can use cream foundations to promote a dewy appearance.]

For a heart-, oval- or square-shaped face, apply contour to the hollows under your cheekbones, on the sides of your forehead around the hairline and along the sides of your nose.


For a longer face, apply contour color to the tip of your chin and on the very top of your forehead at the hairline.

Remember: Anywhere you put the contour color, you are shadowing or minimizing its appearance.


Step 5: Time to highlight. Choose a highlighter color two shades lighter than your skin color. The highlighter is applied anywhere you want to "highlight" or make stand out.

Apply to the brim of the nose, on the cheekbones (above the contour color), to the jawline (below the contour color), on the chin and on the center of the forehead directly above the space between the eyebrows. Use the same brand of foundation as you do for the contour color.

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Step 6: Blend. Use a Beauty Blender or any makeup sponge to blend. The sponge should be slightly damp, which will allow you to blend without wiping off all the makeup you just spent time applying. Blend with a blotting motion, not a wiping motion. Continue blending until all of the lines appear to be smooth.

Step 7: Once everything is blended, you can finish the foundation with a translucent setting powder or enhance the contouring and highlighting with powder bronzer and powder highlighter.


If you choose to enhance, dust and blend a matte bronzer two shades darker than your skin tone in the areas you contoured, and use a highlighter powder on the areas you highlighted. I love Bobbi Brown Matte Bronzing Powder and any of the highlighter powders from the Anastasia Beverly Hills Contour Kit.

Step 8: Finish with a natural blush on the apples of your cheeks, sweeping it up your cheekbones so that it blends. The Bobbi Brown Shimmer Brick gives a subtle yet illuminating appearance.

Step 9: For an added bonus (my favorite part!), apply an illuminator to the bridge of your nose, on top of your cheek bones (around the eye socket), above the outside of your eyebrow, on your chin, on the center of your forehead and on the space directly above your lip (called a Cupid's bow).

This step completes the look and makes your skin appear to glow. Benefit's Watts Up! is not only my favorite item in my makeup bag, it's also one of the best illuminators on the market.

The art of contouring can be broken down into two very easy categories: shadows and highlights. Anywhere you want to look smaller, use contour. Anywhere you want to emphasize, use highlighter. And don't forget to blend! Blending is your best friend.

Most of us look at the beauty and celebrity magazines and envy the glowing complexions and chiseled bone structures. But celebs are just like us: They have someone painting and faking that "perfection." We should all look in the mirror and love ourselves no matter what -- and if we have tools like contouring to enhance our already-beautiful selves, that's just icing on the cake!

Connect with Jenna on Instagram and follow The Oxford Trunk on Instagram and Pinterest for daily fashion and beauty tips.

What Do YOU Think?

Have you ever tried contouring? Did you have it professionally done or did you DIY? What are your favorite brands for contouring? Leave us a comment below and let us know!